“I will not apologize for, you know, having enough cake to twerk.”
That’s the message from Rhode Island state Sen. Tiara Mack (D), who went on offense this week after a video of her twerking on the beach on Block Island went viral.
Video of Mack’s day at the beach with friends blew up after internet scowl Chaya Raichik reposted the lawmaker’s twerk on LibsofTikTok, an anti-LGBTQ Twitter account. The reaction was ugly.
Rhode Island State Senator Tiara Mack (D) made this video encouraging people to vote for her. She also sponsored a bill for teaching kids “queer inclusive, pleasure-based sex ed” pic.twitter.com/835n4jS8LS
– Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) July 5, 2022
“Since the twerking video came out there have been a subset of racist misogynistic people who have called me anything and everything from the n-word to fat to gorilla,” Mack told TMZ (video below). “Many of the negative comments that I have received have been racially motivated, have been racially disgusting.”
Mack’s reaction was the opposite of apologetic.
“I will not apologize for being who I am. I will not apologize for leading my community with a new and fresh voice.”
“I am not going to apologize for being myself and for living a joyful life.”
“I will not apologize for being able to do a headstand,” she said. “And I will not apologize for, you know, having enough cake to twerk.”
Mack was elected to Rhode Island’s state senate in 2020, at the height of the COVID pandemic. “Being herself” was a major selling point of her run for office.
“I love donuts, I play rugby, and I spend way too much time on Instagram. I think that’s one of the most relatable things and the most real things about my campaign.”
Mack has even co-opted the criticism, turning her twerk into a meme and campaign slogan.
Solitary Confinement is torture I #TwerkFor ending this abusive practice in Rhode Island 1/2 pic.twitter.com/TPkSzemOLl
– Tiara Mack (@MackDistrict6) July 9, 2022
A child of South Carolina and Georgia, Mack attended Brown University in Rhode Island and went on to a career in teaching and activism, working with the Board of Women’s Health and Education Fund, the Board of the East Side/Mt. Hope YMCA, and Planned Parenthood, before being elected to represent Rhode Island’s 6th district in the state senate.
Her work contributed to passage of Rhode Island’s Reproductive Privacy Act in 2019, which codified Roe v. Wade and the state’s commitment to reproductive rights, three years before the Supreme Court overturned the law guaranteeing women’s right to an abortion.
“It has been very convenient for the GOP to try and create a narrative that black people and people of color are changing society,” Mack explained. “There is a status quo and just because the status quo is changing and the people who lead our country look different, doesn’t mean that its bad. It’s just different.”
Mack continued: “People are divested, people feel like their vote doesn’t matter. People don’t feel like they have an impact in their community. And I hope that more people will see that you can twerk and have fun and you can also make a tangible impact in your communities for the better.”